So that fans can get an idea of how the LEGO Group has upgraded the electronic technology included in the product range, Brick Fanatics has summed up the key points from an extensive Q&A that saw the team behind the technology answer fan questions. Some of it gets rather technical, but there is useful information for LEGO fans seeking to understand the new system.
Powered UP is the name of the new electronic building platform, covering WeDo 2.0 and BOOST as well as the new City trains and 76112 App-Controlled Batmobile. Power Functions branding will no longer be used, with all such products falling under the Powered UP system. WeDo 2.0 is the version of the system used in LEGO Education products and services.
The benefits of Powered UP are listed as “a more intelligent wired connection with broader usability, a wireless BLE connection with better possibilities than IR and link to mobile smart devices opening a new range of App connected possibilities.”
New functionality is incorporated into the new electronic elements, including making the system more intuitive:
all elements can now be electrically identified, so when attaching e.g. a train motor, the Hub and the App can now recognise it is a train motor. This allows us to help younger users put things in the right place. Another benefit is that we can optimise functionality based on particular elements, for example when using a train motor or the add-on light, the handset increments/decrements power (good for train / setting light) but when using the medium motor, the handset sets 100% power when a button is pressed down (good for RC vehicles).
In terms of connectivity, up to five devices can be linked and up to ten hubs can be controlled by an iOS device. The same hubs can be controlled simultaneously as long as they are on the same channel. The hub used in BOOST can control up to four motors, with the hub used in City train sets capable of controlling two motors. Currently, the Powered UP app has a “limited set of control” when it comes to trains, but will be developed over time.
Responding to questions about the necessity of having two motors in many Technic models, the team confirmed that Technic products will use the new system in the future. The current LEGO Technic releases still use Power Functions, with new products incorporating the Powered UP system, although this was not confirmed as happening in 2019.
The plugs in Power Functions and Powered UP are not compatible, but fans are reassured that there will be an overlap period when Power Functions components will still be available as Powered UP components are introduced, so before the elements are retired fans can acquire what they need. Most of the new elements will launch in 2019.
For those who are train enthusiasts or are building moving models, the full Q&A can be found here and answers many key technical questions.